Texas Rice Festival
Winnie, Texas

When: late September/ early October

Where: Winnie-Stowell Park in Winnie, Texas.

Like grains of rice simmering in a cooking pot, the small Southeast Texas community of Winnie expands from its usual population of 5,000 to over 100,000 each first weekend in October as festival attendees flock to Winnie-Stowell Park for a salute to a favorite food staple.

Contests: One week prior to the festival, an entire weekend is set aside as foodies go on a quest for the best barbecue at the BBQ Cook-off. Spectators can also watch a culinary battle reach its boiling point during a rice cooking contest, or festival attendees can "lick" the competition at an ice cream-eating contest.

For visitors looking to feed their souls, follow the sounds of bow strings to a fiddle-playing contest, or join in on the old-fashioned fun of a horseshoe pitching tournament.

Attractions: Two stages provide the best in local, regional and national acts. In past years, the festival has welcomed Stoney LaRue, Johnny Rodriguez and Johnny Dee and the Rockett 88's up to the mic, while music lovers do a little boot-scootin' boogie during nightly street dances.

Visitors strolling through the town's many antique stores during the festival can also admire the vintage vehicles on display at the classic car show, while souvenir seekers can find Lone Star-style merchandise at over 30 craft booths.

Children's Activities: Pint-sized participants can speed toward the finish line at the diaper derby, while boys suit up in dapper duds to compete for the Little Rice King pageant crown. A parade featuring their peers is a big hit for youngsters on Youth Day, and wee ones will love to wave at the high school bands and the festival queen and her attendants during the Grand Parade. Carnival amusement rides will also offer hours of entertainment for both the young and the young at heart.

For more information:

• visit www.texasricefestival.org


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